The Tauros programme: Ancient, mighty cow returns to Europe

Published 7:27 AM ET, Mon January 9, 2017
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Conservationists and scientists are aiming to produce an animal that will be a "near 100% substitute" of the ancient auroch, one of the earliest cow species, which became extinct in 1627. MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Dutch ecologist Ronald Goderie launched the Tauros programme in 2008, using a technique known as back-breeding to produce an animal similar to the auroch, which would be named 'Tauros.' Staffan Widstrand
The group assembled breeds with genetics most similar to the auroch, and bred them together for a closer match.
These included the Maronesa cow of Portugal.
Taurus foundation
The Maremmana cow of Italy was also included. Taurus foundation
'Manolo Uno' was one of the earliest products of the back-breeding programme. Staffan Widstrand
A second generation Tauros at a breeding site in the Netherlands. Goderie expects the project will require seven generations for an acceptable outcome, which could be achieved by 2025. Taurus foundation
Tauros herd in the Czech Republic, one of several locations around Europe where the animals have been released to fend for themselves.

In addition to appearance and behavior, they must undergo a process of de-domestication that will allow them to survive in the wild, and deal with predators such as wolves.
Opponents of 're-wilding' schemes are concerned that introducing a species could imbalance an ecosystem, but other bovines such as bison have been successfully re-wilded in the US and Europe. JEAN CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The Tauros programme and partners hope the scheme can eventually be expanded so the animals roam over tens of thousands of hectares in Europe. Taurus foundation